Ninth Day in a Row – Winter Spare the Air Alert Issued for Monday December 16th

December 15, 2013 16:00 pm · 69 comments


The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has issued the thirteenth Spare the Air alert of the season, banning wood burning on Monday Dec. 16th for the ninth day in a row.

The following information is from the BAAQMD:

Wood burning is banned both indoors and outdoors tomorrow, Monday Dec. 16, 2013.

Air quality in the Bay Area is forecast to be unhealthy. It is illegal for Bay Area residents to burn wood or other solid fuels in fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire-pits, or other wood-burning devices.

This wood-burning ban will be in effect for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano Counties.

Winter air pollution is mainly caused by particulates or soot pollution from wood smoke. Smoke from wood-burning fires is linked to illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and lung disease, and is especially harmful for children and the elderly.

For more information about the Wood Burning Rule, or to check before you burn, visit or call 1-877-4NO-BURN.

You can also call 1-800-430-1515 and register to receive automatic phone calls when a Winter Spare the Air Alert has been called.

To see the current air quality forecast visit

Visit the Apple App Store to download our FREE Spare the Air iPhone application for alert notifications, local air quality forecasts, podcasts and several tools to help reduce air pollution!

Thank you for doing your part to Spare the Air!

This AirAlert is provided by your Bay Area Air Quality Management District.


1 Elwood December 15, 2013 at 4:03 PM

So, eight days in a row of fireplace burning ban and the air quality still sucks.

Great work, BAAQMD!

I call bull****!

2 cold December 15, 2013 at 4:10 PM

My house was built in 2002, but it gets cold. One person said his house
stays at 74 without heater. How ?? It would be 64 in my house without heater.

3 Sherlock H. December 15, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Yeah, nobody saw this coming…

4 anon December 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM

House off Mitchell Canyon towards state park in Clayton continues to ignore Spare the Air.

5 RunnerDope December 15, 2013 at 4:40 PM


News flash! Not burning doesn’t make the air cleaner, it just doesn’t make it worse.

6 JLG December 15, 2013 at 5:04 PM

My barometer is has been over 30. in for over a week until the pressure starts dropping the the build up of pollution will just keep increasing.
At first some people were upset the government was infringing on our right to have a fire now I hear people criticizing BAAQMD that we are still having bad air. Can’t have it both ways.

7 barn December 15, 2013 at 5:11 PM

just started the fire and bbq if the want to come over and give a warning
i’ll feed them and let sit in a warm house dinner in about an hour

8 Denise December 15, 2013 at 5:13 PM

@ cold-2

A lot of homes stay warm without a heater. It’s currently 73 in our home, and I have my bedroom window 1/3 of the way open, and my husband has the front door cracked open too. During the football games earlier, he had the sliding glass door open part way.

We live in Martinez in a 1900 sq. ft. home. We’ve lived here since 1999, and I’ve turned the heater on less than 5 times. We only turn the heater on if it’s 62 or under, and even in this cold spell, our house is been 67-74 degrees. It stays cool in the summer too, but we do have central AC, which costs a lot to run, but we run it anyway if necessary.

This question has been answered many times by several different people, but for the last time, it’s called HAVING A WELL INSULATED HOME. EITHER YOU HAVE ONE, OR YOU DON’T!

I’m sorry to read you don’t have one.

9 TinFoiler December 15, 2013 at 5:18 PM

I guess nobody noticed the GEO-ENGINEERING today? BAAQMD must not have the BALLS to say anything about that, what do you say BAAQMD??? Huh?
Keep shopping and watching your sports MORONS.

10 Heatseeker December 15, 2013 at 5:20 PM

@anon…i continue to ignore spare the air alert as well. I burn day and night and keep my family and I warm for free. Yes free as i have a lifetime supply of seasoned firewood. If you have an allergy, well sorry. Stay indoors on spare the air days. 9 days in a row? Come on that is just crazy. How could anyone afford to run their heaters for 9 days straight to stay warm? Well i could. I just choose not to. I dont like being told what to do.

anon December 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM
House off Mitchell Canyon towards state park in Clayton continues to ignore Spare the Air.

11 Schmee December 15, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Reminder if your house was built without central heat the law doesn’t apply.

I thought this law was dumb till I walked to the hardware store the other night and could barely breath from a local fireplace fire.

12 Bobfshed December 15, 2013 at 5:28 PM

@runner dope
Then ban whatever it is thats causing the air to be bad. People with breathing problems are suffering!

13 Bobfshed December 15, 2013 at 5:29 PM

News Flash! It’s from burning petroleum!

14 Ian December 15, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Well the AA battery in my thermostat needs to be replaced and without it I can’t use my heater… so… I guess I’m exempt.

15 irishill December 15, 2013 at 5:45 PM

This is so wonderful for me as an asthmatic. First time in many cold winters I’ve not been in crises! Thank you to those of you wanting to enjoy a warm, inviting fire.

16 @Denise December 15, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t produce anywhere near the amount of hot air you do.

I don’t care how much insulation you have, it won’t produce heat. If the temperature outside hasn’t been over 60 degrees for two months, insulation alone isn’t going to keep your house at 74. If you’re baking 65 batches of cookies in your oven every day, then you’re heating your house with your oven. It has nothing to do with your insulation. Those of us who don’t bake use our fireplaces instead.

17 Why Not December 15, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Make it an even 10.

18 Blink December 15, 2013 at 6:16 PM

No other heat source you are exempt ….@4

19 MikeyV December 15, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Ain’t that some tihs?

20 Magic Insulation December 15, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Sorry, Denise, insulation can’t heat your house.

21 fulubulu December 15, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Denise, I get it, you have a well insulted home. What generates heat in your home? I don’t understand how it can be in the 30′s outside, you have doors and windows open and you are able to achieve a cozy 70+ temp inside. What is generating the heat? Thanks.

22 Claycordcommentsaresuchdowners December 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Yet another thread of abundant well thought out posts. This must be the group around the water cooler that complains about any and every decision made for them, yet never offers a solution of takes responsibility themselves.

23 Eat food December 15, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Me like burn wood, keep me warm. Also cook meat with fire, better than raw. That is all, ug

24 Larry December 15, 2013 at 7:14 PM

@4 Turn them in or gather your facts first.There are still plenty of homes built in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s in CLAYTON.Believe it or not.Maybe they can legally burn.Have you thought of that?????????

25 Anon December 15, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I have a condo built in 1971. It has a wall heater, no central air. I turn my heater off at night and it’s about 74. When I wake up in the am it’s 50 degrees. I’ve insulated it as much as possible, but it gets really cold!

26 Denise December 15, 2013 at 7:36 PM


You’re a moron.


Since you’re nice about it, I’ll be nice to you. With the exception of having a home that’s well insulated, I have no idea why are house is warmer than others.

There’s 4 of us living here. I do a lot of cooking, but not 65 batches of cookies.

My elderly Mother who’s very cold blooded rarely turns her heater on in her home. She lives in Martinez, and she says it hasn’t been below 67 degrees during the cold spell, so no need for the heater.

We have double paned windows and sliding glass door, which I’m sure helps.

If your home is well insulated, it will keep the cold out, and keep the heat in the summer out, but only somewhat. We do run the AC in the summer, and it gets very expensive.

27 Denise December 15, 2013 at 7:48 PM

So now I’m curious. I don’t really know anything about insulation, so I googled “well insulated homes.”

There are three types of homes.

1. Leaky House (poorly insulated), etc.

2. Modern House (moderately insulated), etc.

3. Passive House (superbly insulated), etc.

I won’t bore you with the entire article, but since some people are asking, and some are downright nasty about it, and don’t want to believe people who have well insulated homes, the article goes on to say…….

Leaky House—$1,500 year heating bill
Modern House—$750 year heating bill
Passive House —$100 year heating bill


I now know more about insulation and other people’s heating problems that I care to know.


My husband and I, according to this article, own a passive house.

28 Warm Again on Wed. December 15, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Winds are forecast to pick up from SW at 10 to 15 mph during the day on WED. then WSW at 5 to 10 mph that evening.

29 Section D December 15, 2013 at 8:22 PM

I have and use a very EPA friendly wood pellet fireplace insert. Certainly will continue to use it when I want to. It produces about a cup of ash each 40 lb bag since it is so efficient. Burn baby burn.

30 Dorothy December 15, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Yesterday as I was returning from Oakley the haze was bad enough that I could hardly see the hills. Today I was in Brentwood and it wasn’t much better. Rumor I heard was that most of next week will be spare the air days.

Rain dancers need to work harder.

31 Antonio December 15, 2013 at 8:51 PM

@ Denise #28

That makes sense. What I don’t understand is why people don’t “get it?”

Insulation has everything to do with it. We all have the same temp. outside (give or take a few degrees), but your inside temp. has everything to do with what type of insulation you have.


32 Mrs. T December 15, 2013 at 8:59 PM

Can’t wait to move from Cali. Hate this place :)

33 B December 15, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Has anyone EVER had the BAAMQD ever cite them at their home?? Seriously?? I’m really curious to know if anyone has gotten a warning, ticket, or now the “new class” you can take if caught.
I’m so sick of freezing my behind cuz I can’t have a fire!!

34 Antonio December 15, 2013 at 9:24 PM

@ Magic Insulation #21

Sorry, Magic Insulation, yes it can. See her post, #28.

Insulation doesn’t “heat your house.” It keeps the cold from coming in.
There’s a difference. The intellect of some of the people on these posts is not only sad, it’s pathetic.

35 Duchess Edwina Fluflesnoot December 15, 2013 at 9:38 PM

#24 Thanks. I was beginning to wonder if an East County resident would chime in.

36 cold December 15, 2013 at 9:47 PM

I am not here to argue, I only wanted to know why my fairly
new home is not well insulated . That is all.
But the interesting thing is I rarely turn on A/C in summer.
My house stays cool, that is opposite to Denise’ house.
I do “get it”, but I am still puzzled Denise’s well insulated house
gets hotter than my less insulated house,,,

37 @4 anon December 15, 2013 at 9:50 PM

You are guilty of supporting the baseless policy of the BAAQMD. The Nazis relied on the same form of community policing and it is repulsive. Mind your own business and pray that you are not discovered to be the rat that you are.

If this effort to control the community using the environment as an excuse to do so gains momentum, I would think twice about ratting out my neighbors.

38 anon December 15, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Dear Heatseeker,
You are breaking the law and exposing your family to health issues and your surrounding neighbors.

39 Steve December 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM

I hope Miss Denise put an end to the “why is your house warmer than mine?”

@ Cold~~~~37

I’m sorry you’re cold, but please understand that homes that are well insulated will keep the cold out in the winter, and keep the heat out in the summer. Somewhat anyway.

I figured this out in high school. Can’t you people figure this out on your own without attacking others whose home is warmer than yours without get nasty? You don’t have to bake 65 batches of cookies, or have hot air.

I hope those of you that don’t understand this realize how stupid you look, and your criticism of those who have nicer, warmer homes just make you look even more stupid.

Lastly, Denise never said her house gets really hot all the time. She just said it gets expensive to run the air. That could mean any extra money.

Also keep in mind some people are more cold blooded, or warmer blooded than others. Your cold house could seem comfortable to others.

40 anon December 15, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Are you threatening me because someone is not following Spare the Air?

41 Billy December 15, 2013 at 10:24 PM

#38, I couldn’t agree more. Ratting someone out to the government is a Nazi tactic. That’s why I didn’t call the police when I saw a couple of guys breaking into my neighbors house. I just minded my own business because I’m no Nazi loving rat.

42 @ Antonio, #35---cold doesn't come in, warmth escapes December 15, 2013 at 10:29 PM

The physics principle involved is that heat flows to cold. Try sitting on a slab of cold concrete sometime, you’ll see. As your body produces heat, it flows away, trying to warm the concrete, which, because of the mass, never happens, thereby sucking away all your body warmth. A well insulated house, with tight fitting doors and double or triple glazed windows, prevents this outward flow of heat.

43 Antler December 15, 2013 at 11:01 PM

Here’s a thought…..the governor of Alabama is in a full- blown tizzy because he doesn’t want to stop that state’s dependency on coal (and he’s ticked off because environmentalists from his own state and other states are trying to substitute cleaner fuel sources). So how about all you lung terrorists move to Alabama and help him out with his pro-pollution agenda?

44 eyewhen December 15, 2013 at 11:26 PM


Why move? I can assist that movement from here.

Lung terrorist number one

45 Justsayin December 16, 2013 at 12:42 AM

My house is insulated and double pain windows but when it is 25 a few nights in a row and I get up and temp in my family room is 45 I am going to light a fire since that is the only heat in the back part of my home. My fireplace is a sealed unit and there is no smoke coming out of it. My firewood is free so why support PG&E ?

46 Mark December 16, 2013 at 6:50 AM

I have not burned a fire yet, but I will Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, whether or not there is a spare the air issued.

47 Antler December 16, 2013 at 7:01 AM

Eyewhen at #46 …… True! Except that Governor Shelby’s biggest squeaking is about the “outside” money coming into Alabama to influence the decisions! He’s one of those who supported lobbyists being able to donate like individuals, but now it’s very much NIMBY coming from his mouth!

48 Well.. December 16, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Sorry but I have to call bull sh!t on the insulation. I have a well insulated home. My heater is set to 67 degrees. It never gets below 65 so my heater only comes a few times a day. I don’t turn on lights alot. I watch TV in the dark ( just how I like it). I don’t do a lot of cooking since it’s just me. My house is 1600 sq ft. My electric bill is almost always $150.00 a month. I have double paned windows as well.

As far as wood burning goes, I have a friend who is an asthmatic (sp?) who uses an inhaler almost daily. She burns wood in her fireplace and it doesn’t bother her. Cigerette smoke and car exhaust does.

If you want the air quality to improve, there is only one sure way- reduce the amount of people living in one area. The bay area has more people than it can hold. Look at the traffic. It should not take an hour to travel 35 miles.

A question for those who have breathing problems- why would you want to live in a congested area that consistantly has bad air? wouldn’t you want to live where the air is better? There are plenty of jobs in No. Dak and Indiana. They have better air. Florida and Texas are having a boom in jobs. They have better air.

49 Mac December 16, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Oh man i choked.
I thought there was no way it was still a Stare the air day on Saturday.
And i had a fire in my fireplace for 3 hours or so.

I`m sure glad i didn`t know at the time it still was a stare the air day.
Would have made it stressful at the least.

Seems like they need to come up with a better way of letting people know if it is a Stare The Air day or not.

It`s cool it is in here.
But it seems like it needs to be in many more places.
Because everyone does not come on Claycord daily.
I know i never come in here on the weekends.

But i do appreciate that it is listed in here.

I`m not trying to sneak around do it anyway.
I truly thought it was Ok to burn.
From now on, i will check ahead of time.

Guess we`ll be able to have fires, once it gets warm.

50 PO'd December 16, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Heat transfers from hot to cold, so in the winter,it transfers out of the structure.The reverse is true in the summer,the heat transfers into the structure. Insulation SLOWS the transfer, but it doesn’t stop it.Same for double glazed windows.They can make a big difference in the heat loss/gain in your home reducing your bill.They do not stop the transfer however.
If you are able to maintain 74 F without using your gas furnace, electric heat or solid fuel in your home, then you would have to have a large glazing area facing south to passively heat your home. Also, insulation would have to be at least R30 in the attic, and at least R13 in the walls. Probably 2 story slab construction.
I’m very skeptical about the claim that it maintains 74 F after a week plus of lows in the low 30s dipping into the high 20s.More info would be needed
for me to believe it.(30 years experience HVAC, including residential load calculations)

51 Bobfshed December 16, 2013 at 9:49 AM

The pollution we are currently experiencing is not from wood fires but from the burning of petroleum products. At least on the news last night they were beginning to tell the truth. While speaking about the bad air quality they showed quick clip of a cars tailpipe spewing exhaust and then a quick clip of a jet taking off at the airport. The BAAQMD representative on the newscast decided to go ahead and lie which made him look like an idiot. Their own data tells us that less than 1/3 of winter pollution comes from wood fires. He decided to tell everyone it was 40%. Even during the ban. That is not the truth.
You either heat your home with wood or you heat it with petroleum products.

52 Who needs a wood fire... December 16, 2013 at 9:54 AM

…when the Claycord commentators are flaming each other? Just hang out here to stay warm.

53 Bobfshed December 16, 2013 at 9:56 AM

What we have in the air at this time is not from wood. It’s the same as what we have in the summer.

54 120% December 16, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Brings to mind all the car products claiming to improve gas mileage.
One guy ruined it all, he added up the claims of savings, came to over 100%. He asked what he should do with the excess gasoline.

55 Usless Bureaucrats December 16, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Had an occasion recently to hear of a wondrous group of college graduate wet behind the ears bureaucrats running about with little supervision. They’re using satellite imagery to harass businesses in CA. With threats of 6 figure fines if their whims are not satisfied.

They concluded dark colored areas on a satellite image was evidence of pollution. Was in fact it was wet ground in a depression where water had pooled and soil had not dried out yet.
Another “violation” was at a processing facility where they said in process material had leaked out onto deck plates. They showed up to “inspect”, again threatening large fines. Had not occurred to them, the decking was painted in red rust proofing paint.
No apology they just packed up and left.

56 Birdie December 16, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Throw it on your fire, your house will heat quickly.

57 Angelica December 16, 2013 at 11:18 AM

So Denise goes into this long explanation (that she googled on line) and people still don’t get it.

I think I was the first to chime in on well insulated houses about a week ago.

I guess our house would be “passive.”

It’s currently 71 in our home. I’m in the back bedroom, and have my bedroom window open partially, because it’s supposed to be a little warmer today. Had the bedroom window open last night too.

If you don’t believe that our home is 71degrees, and it was 75 last night, come on over to our home in WC, and I’ll prove it to you! Do I need to take a picture of our thermostat with a time and date stamp?

Accept the fact that you have a poorly insulated home, and if your can’t afford to run the heater, then don’t.

Spare the Air days will end, and hopefully it warms up.

58 Original G December 16, 2013 at 11:51 AM
59 @Useless Burocrats December 16, 2013 at 11:54 AM

I’m pretty sure they didn’t think twice about the offer, as wonderous as it could be for college grads who seem to stay wet behind the ears. Sounds like a nice deck.

60 @Original G December 16, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Those solar can heaters make sense from an engineering point of view.

61 Natalie December 16, 2013 at 12:35 PM

It’s currently 71 degrees in our home, with a bedroom window open all the way, and a window cracked open in the front of the house.

We live in an older 1950′s house, 1300 sq. ft. on Shirley Dr. in PH.

It’s not just the newer, nicer homes. Sometimes older houses have really good insulation too.

Haven’t turned on the heater in over 10 years, and yes, I believe it’s the insulation, and nothing else!

I turn the oven on maybe once a week, and I don’t have big plasma screen TV’s like some of the other posters with warm homes.

62 Frank L. December 16, 2013 at 12:58 PM

You can add Natalie to the list of people who will now be attacked for having a warmer home.

Or maybe not, since her house is older and smaller. People with newer, larger homes are under fire, no pun intended.

Can’t wait until Spare the Air days are over. Let the whiners get back to burning their fires. Like we’re in the Artic…….

63 vindex December 16, 2013 at 1:38 PM

This debate simply comes down to the role we want government to have in our lives. There is no doubt that everyone here wants clean air. The question is this.. “How many liberties are we willing to give up to have cleaner air?”
I for one am no willing to allow the government to regulate me to the point they are.

64 Elwood December 16, 2013 at 2:23 PM

@ Justsayin #46

Double pain windows are such a pane!

65 Original G December 16, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Came across this which has BTU calculation of how much heat a panel is producing.. Might help those wondering if it’s worth the effort.

They decided to make it TEN spare the air days in a row.

Winds turn around to onshore flow Tuesday afternoon.
Don’t think they’ll go for 11 days straight.

66 Bobfshed December 16, 2013 at 2:31 PM

The BAAQMD is responsible for the bad air that we have had recently. They try to put the whole blame on wood fires when in reality most of the bad air quality is caused by the burning of petroleum. By only mentioning wood fires no one takes them time to say maybe i should drive less, or not BBQ or turn down my thermostat. The BAAQMD says as long as there are no wood fires the air will be clean and that is a lie as you can tell by the air quality.

67 Elwood December 16, 2013 at 2:43 PM

The ladies need to find out what is heating their homes in violation of all the laws of physics and thermodynamics, patent it and sell it.

68 @64 December 16, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Respectfully, it’s number of housing units in a given geographical area. Politicians likely are far more concerned with housing industry campaign contributions than with an area’s ability to tolerate a population. Cities also mistakenly see housing units as sources of tax revenue, never considering the pitfall of cheap housing units on smaller plots of land.

BAAQMD has always done a pathetic job in educating the public it supposedly serves, despite having over 110 employees making in excess $100,000 per year. They are top heavy ! ! !

69 jki December 16, 2013 at 3:53 PM

BAAQMD… This is what we get left with when you take what was initially an “advisory” agency and suddenly give them legal authority. If you think they are a bit much now, just wait till the teeth start biting on the “Climate Action Resolution” just endorsed by BAAQMD couple weeks ago. This is an extreme & drastic change by climate activists. They want the Bay Area to lead the world in carbon reduction efforts, and brush off the social/economic and political concerns. If we are going to have a regulatory agency with such an agenda, they should be elected specifically for the position, state their goals and be held directly accountable to the voters. The current “appointed” directors of BAAQMD fall short in all aspects of accountability.

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